Photo by Alex Stikeleather
Perhaps you’ve noticed the green theme here at Automoblog.net today. Nope, I don’t think it looks quite right either, but it’s staying green for Earth Day today – April 22, 2010 – like it or not.
Show your support and take action or whatever by heading over to earthday.org and checking out the campaigns, events, and looking at some of the ways you can reduce your energy consumption.
While you’re at it, check out these tips and tricks, along with some great Green Automotive products to help reduce energy use, use recycled products, and save some cash:
Change Your Air Filter
Not a particularly creative entry into the list, but the simple act of changing out your old and busted air filter for a new one will increase fuel economy and improve performance.
Use a cotton-element filter like a K&N which you never have to replace, and you won’t be throwing out those nasty paper filters anymore, reducing waste a significant amount. Yeah, they’re more expensive, but they’re worth it. In fact it’s the first thing I do when I buy a new car. Not only will you notice more pep from your ride after installing one of these, but they come with a 10-year, 1,000,000 (yup that’s a million) mile warranty. Just take it out and clean it every 50,000 miles and you’re done.
Use EcoBright Headlights
Headlight specs claim that they are 25% brighter than standard halogen bulbs but consume 9 to 21% less energy, saving $2 to $19 in gas every year. They cost about $25 a pair, which is about $10 less than you’ll pay for SilverStars. Find Sylvania EcoBright headlights for your car.
Energy Efficient Spark Plugs
Falling under the “I had no idea they made these” category, behold the E3 Spark Plug. The E3 plugs, depending on your engine, give you a “potential” 4% to 13% fuel efficiency improvement over stock plugs. Not bad, huh? In addition, they reduce CO emissions by 58% and hydrocarbons by 42%. Pop these bad boys in that old ’76 Plymouth Duster and you’ll have a PZEV rating in no time.
As if the whole “saving the Earth” thing wasn’t enough, the E3 Plugs claim to increase power by 6% to 12% (again, depending on your engine.) They aren’t cheap, but based on claimed savings, you’ll make the cash up in no time. Retailing for about $12 each, you can pick these up at Amazon for $5 – $6 a pop. 5-year/100,000 mile limited warranty and all.
Keep a Real-Time Eye on Your Driving with ScanGuage
Most newfangled cars are coming with their own built-in fuel economy readings, letting you keep an eye on what you’re getting in terms of instant or average MPGs. What they don’t come with, however, is the ability to track how much the trip is costing you on a per-trip and daily basis, horsepower, ignition timing, throttle position, fuel trim, O2 sensor data, battery voltage, and coolant temp. That’s where the ScanGauge II comes in. This nifty little device plugs into your OBDII port (you have to have a 1996 or newer car,) and with a little bit of configuration, starts displaying the parameters listed above and many more. It also lets you scan and clear trouble codes (which can also help save on fuel costs.)
Having your instant MPG displayed in front of you really does help save on gas, and seeing how much each trip is costing you makes you feel bad about it. If you’re more insterested in the fuel economy aspect of the device and won’t ever use much more than that, check out the Fuel Efficiency Adviser. The ScanGauge sells for a reasonable $160 on Amazon.
Green Car Care Products
The “Green” movement is only growing, and we’re starting to see many more companies coming out with environmentally-friendly products. The auto industry is no exception – there are dozens of biodegradable and organic car care products on the market, and they’re not much more expensive than your typical Earth-destroying variants. If you want to try out a sample pack of organic car care products, check out the Green Earth Technologies 5 Pack Car Care Kit for $16, which comes with an Earth-friendly glass cleaner, car wash, tire shine, brake dust shield, and wheel cleaner, along with a cute “EZ 2 B GRN” license plate.
Check Your Tire Pressure
If you’re running lower than recommended tire pressure for your car, you’re losing money on excess fuel. That’s stupid. Check your tire pressure on a regular basis. I know it sucks, but do it anyway. Pick up a cheap tire gauge and throw it in your glove box to check the pressure every time you fill up the tank. Amazon has some good deals on digital tire gauges. I use the standard digital Accutire gauge; it’s $10 and works like a charm.
Although the results are yet to be verified, try filling up your tires with nitrogen instead of air next time you take it to a shop that offers it. Don’t pay what they’re asking for it; it’s usually too expensive to be worth it. Try to get them to throw it in with another service, that’s what I did. Nitrogen-filled tires claim to keep their air longer due to larger molecules less likely to leak out, or some crap like that. Plus you get cool green stem caps.
Turn Off the A/C
Turning on the air conditioning can reduce fuel economy by 10-20% – a significant decrease. At in-city speeds, it’s more economical to roll down the windows to cool off. If you want to go to the extreme, take out the A/C completely – automotive air conditioning units are very heavy, reducing efficiency and performance. Ever lifted one of those damn things? Bound to throw out your back if you’re not careful.
Take out some of the burn by using a sun shade, which helps reduce the in-car temperature significantly when parked. Also remember that dark interiors, although much more attractive, do tend to get warmer than the lighter colors. Leather seats only amplify that effect, burning the hell out your legs if you’re wearing shorts.